Private: C. Mortgomery Byrnes
“Perception is Reality.” A lesson that Mortimer Knightingale has learned all too well over the course of the past two weeks. After all, one person’s hero is another’s villain. In Mortimer’s mind he was saving Kohime Mori from a fate far more painful than a couple of jabs to the mouth. That was exactly what he would have told anyone if they had the wherewithal to ask.
Unfortunately, Mortimer was not asked those kinds of questions.
No, the questions, some more hurtful than others, that have been levied his way were:
“Why don’t you go back to Jersey?”
“How does it feel being a giant piece of shit?”
“What name do you prefer: Scumbag or Dickweed Bastard Gremlin?”
Over the past couple of weeks, an online petition requesting that PRIME management release Mortimer Knightingale from his contract had reached thirty-two thousand signatures. It would be fair to say that, in the court of public opinion, that he was guilty of being a woman hating, girl beating, bigoted piece of dumpster trash and should be treated as such.
So, when it came to pass, on March 24, 2023, when he defeated Darin Zion to earn his spot in the Alias Championship finals against Kohime Mori at “Culture Shock”, we had two conflicting emotions battling one another – excitement and fear. It was the first time since he joined PRIME that he felt like he achieved something but, at the same time, it would mean that he would need to be in the ring, face to face, with Kohime Mori. It would be the first time he would look into her eyes since the punch heard around PWA.
What would she do? How would she react? How would he react?
Mortimer adored Kohime, in fact, he still does. He often gazed at the photograph he took of her on his phone when they went to the Waffle House. Her genuine smile. Those dark, comforting eyes. As he stared at the image on the small screen of his smartphone, memories, as limited as they were, flooded into his mind. How she looked at him, how she saw the man he could have been. How she made him feel, like he could be the man she believed he could be.
Could he bring himself to harm her again?
Granted, it would be in the ring. It would be an officially sanctioned match, after all.
After what he had done to her, would it not be the honorable thing to fall on his sword and allow Kohime Mori to have her moment, hoisting the Alias Championship over head? Would that not also be, on some level, unsportsmanlike? She is a competitor and a victory handed over to her on a silver platter would be tainted.
Mortimer, at that moment, promised himself that he would do his best to win but not at the expense of Kohime Mori’s health.
That is what he told himself, but how true is that?
After all, every man has a breaking point, don’t they?
Mortimer had hoped the hatred would have run its course. Perhaps another scandal would overshadow his minor assault on Kohime Mori. Perhaps Brandon Youngblood would have been caught leading a cockfighting ring. Maybe Flamberge would have murdered a hooker during a coked up weekend in Cabo San Lucas. Could news come out that Ivan Stanislav was not Russian but, in fact, Danish? Alas, no.
Mortimer left San Antonio hoping that the libel and slander being thrown his way would have dissolved like an Alka Seltzer tablet in a glass of water. Instead, he was forced to walk the streets of Texas having slurs slung at him by passersby. The most prominent one being the aforementioned “Dickweed Bastard Gremlin’, which had, over the course of the next forty-eight hours, been abbreviated to “DBG” (and almost always preceded by “You fucking…”).
It weighed on him. Not just being disliked but actively despised. Along with the insults, he continued to get spat on like a Dickensian street urchin and, during a visit to a fast food establishment with a royal sounding name, a pimply faced teen made inference that he made the special sauce himself.
The loathing did not stop there. One Twitter user inferred on their post that they hoped one day soon Mortimer would catch a bullet to the back of the head and they would be happy to pull the trigger (the atrocious spelling and incoherent abbreviations had made it almost unreadable but Frank Pastore, frequent Twitter visitor helped him decipher the not-so-veiled- threat). If that had been the only threat against his safety, maybe Mortimer would not have paid as much attention to it, but it was one of hundreds (most of which were penned by trolls hidden under the bridge of anonymity most social media platforms provide), some more graphic than others, some included being violated by a large animal such as a bear or lion.
There was a part of him that took solace in the fact that these people adored Kohime Mori and they were coming to her aid.
Where Kohime Mori was sweet, beautiful, kind, innocent, a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary world, those that came to her defense were ugly, corrupted, cynical, abhorrent inhuman monsters. What would she think of these actions? Would she condone them or admonish them?
Mortimer Knightingale had hoped it would be the latter but she has remained silent. And that has been her prerogative to do so. Her feelings were no one’s business but her own.
It did not make it easier. When he was alone in his modest motel room, out of view from prying eyes, like he did in the third grade and his head was shoved into a pee filled toilet by a couple of older, more sadistic lads, he wept. They were manly tears.
A couple of days passed by and the stresses of being, in Mortimer’s words, “person au gratin”, began to mount like cinder blocks on a rotted piece of wood. At a certain point he, like the piece of wood, snapped.
All he wanted was a slice of pizza. A little taste of home. He left without his mask. The irony of seeking anonymity by not wearing a mask was not lost on him.
Who would have guessed that a simple trip to a local pizzeria would end the way it did?
Mr. Ruggiero’s Gourmet New York Style Pizza had a certain name quality that Mortimer Knightingale felt was almost Brooklyn-esque. It had been several months since he had a really good slice of pizza. It reminded him of home.
Lord knew he needed some semblance of comfort.
He entered the pizzeria. The scents were not as authentic as he had hoped. It smelled almost as if the entire establishment had been sanitized in Lemon Pledge. It was eleven o’clock so he beat the lunch rush. In fact, there was only one patron, a middle aged man wearing a John Deere trucker cap reading USA Today. There was something refreshing about seeing someone actually reading from a periodical instead of their phone.
Mortimer Knightingale walked up to the counter, several freshly cooked pies on display. He did not dare look, he knew what he wanted. Just a little taste of home to improve his mood. The slender man behind the counter looked almost too dapper sporting a black dress shirt and a name tag that read “Tim”. He spoke in a slight British accent as he greeted the PRIME wrestler.
TIM: Good morning, sir. It will be a pleasure to serve you today, what shall I get for you?
The accent was slightly jarring that Mortimer almost stammered when he blurted out his order.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Two slices of pepperoni and a Coke.
TIM: I am sorry, sir. We don’t, ah, serve that here.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Fine, Pepsi, whatever.
TIM: Eh, no, you misunderstand. We do not serve pepperoni.
Mortimer Knightingale stares at Tim blankly, he blinks once, twice, thrice before speaking.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: I, uh, I musta misheard you, maybe I’m gettin’ some hearin’ loss but it kinda sounded like you said you don’t serve pepperoni.
TIM: Yes, sir. That would be correct. We are a gourmet pizzeria. We are trying to reinvent what pizza can be.
Mortimer feels his heart sink. He had desperately wanted pepperoni. It was fine, he thought. He can curb his appetite with something simple.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Uh-huh. How about just a slice of cheese?
TIM: Yes, and what kind of cheese.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Pizza cheese, what other cheese?
TIM: Well, might I suggest out beetroot and goat cheese pizza with—
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: The fuck is that? I want a plain cheese pizza. This is New York pizza, right?
TIM: Well, “New York Style” meaning it’s in the style of a New York pizza with a little Ruggiero panache.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: A New York Pizza is supposed to have pizza cheese with so much grease you gotta dab it with a napkin.
TIM: Would you clarify—–
Mortimer Knightingale finally looked over the options that were on display. Sure enough, he saw a goat cheese and beetroot pizza. There was also a brie and pear pie. A Mexi-Pizza advertising oaxaca cheese, poblano peppers, roasted corn, and a tomatillo sauce. A lamb meatball topped with feta and a minty yogurt drizzle. In fact, there was not a single familiar pizza in the joint. Mortimer could feel his eye twitch and his lips trembled ever so slightly.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: What the fuck?
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Seriously, what the actual fuck? This? Do you have any fuckin’ idea the shitstorm I’ve been through the past coupla weeks? Huh? And the only thing, the only fuckin’ thing that I wanted was a slice and I come in here, nice Italian name, and what do I get? These fuckin’ abrogations!
TIM: Pardon me, sir. If you continue to use that language and tone, I will—–
Mortimer Knightingale grabs Tim by his neatly pressed and steamed black dress shirt and yanks him forward. Mortimer’s face is within inches of Tim’s, so close he can smell the root beer on the employee’s breath.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: You’ll do what, short pants?
Tim looks petrified, almost as if he is about to empty his bowels at any moment.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Lemme ask you somethin’….
Mortimer Knightingale looks down at the nametag and proceeds to flippantly flick it.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Where’s this Ruggiero guy? Maybe me an’ him should—-
TIM: He, ah, doesn’t exist!
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Whaddya mean he don’t exist?
TIM: The owner, uh, he, ah, thought it sounded more, um, authentic.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: So, this place ain’t even run by Italians?
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Are they even from New York?
TIM: Utah, I think.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Motherfucker.
The look of disgust on Mortimer’s face was unmistakable. He looked like he had just witnessed homeless man devour a steaming pile of dog for a dollar. It was at this particular moment the other patron had gotten up and attempted to sneak up on the PRIME wrestler, no doubt to save Tim from, what can only be described as, a slightly unhinged (but slowly becoming more and more enraged) muscular man. Unfortunately for the patron, his phone went off, to Mortimer it had sounded a lot like “Smoke on the Water”, but he couldn’t be sure since he was startled. With unexpected reflexes, he released Tim, spun, and cracked the patron across the jaw. The patron dropped like a sack of potatoes. Something in Mortimer snapped and he began kicking the patron repeatedly, screaming “What the fuck, man? What the fuck you tryin’ to do?” The patron, however, was crying and yelping in pain.
All Mortimer could think of when looking at the man curled up in the fetal position as he put the boots to him were all the nasty, vile people that have treated him poorly over the past few weeks and how they should be taking this beating on this poor schlub.
Panting, almost gasping, after the abundance of energy he had spent giving the patron more kicks than a Rockette, he looked at the ground. Blood trickled from the man’s mouth as he too struggled to breathe.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: Fuck….fuck…..fuck…..
Mortimer Knightingale looked around for Tim, who was nowhere to be seen. In an effort to rectify the situation he crouched over the man.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: I’m sorry! Hey man, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it! You startled me! I mean, you kinda snuck up on me! You forced me to defend myself! You had to know that was a possibility I’d fight back….you….stupid fuckin’ prick! You made me do this….YOU ASSHOLE!
Mortimer Knightingale kicked the patron again and stopped himself, staggered backward almost looking horrified at what he had done.
MORTIMER KNIGHTINGALE: I’m sorry! I’m….uh….yeah…..
Mortimer Knightingale spun around, looking for witnesses, cameras, anything might have documented what had just transpired. Mortimer proceeded to subconsciously dust himself off as he calmly walks out of the pizzeria, fumbling inside his pockets searching for his phone. There was only one person who could potentially get him out that serious of a jam. Since he had been prohibited from calling the Grin directly, he, instead called Frank Pastore, and hoped everything would be smoothed over.
I adore you. I know, I know. Poppin’ you in the face is not the best way of showin’ it. But you gotta know, it needed to be done for your future mental health. It woulda never worked out. Romantical, plutonical, or otherwise. It’s better this way.
Let’s face it, you deserve better than a mook like me. I woulda brought you down, I woulda done somethin’ stupid. It is what it is.
I know I can’t take it back. It’s like the man says, “You can’t unfire a gun”. I can tell you, you also cannot put the bullet back in from whence it came.
I ain’t gonna apologize for doin’ what I did neither. I ain’t sorry for doin’ it. The only thing I am sorry for is the fact that much like a tiger, I am what I am and thus, cannot change my spots. I am selfishly sorry that I ruined a magical woulda-coulda been because there was a level of happiness there that I just don’t get to have and if I did, it woulda been devastating to us both in the end. But I wanted it, you know. But I didn’t wanna fuck you up in the head. You woulda changed, not for the better.
And here’s the thing, Short Stack, I can’t hurt you. Not that I can’t, moreso, I don’t wanna. You mean too much to me to cause you any more pain.
But we find ourselves in quite the predicated situation where you and me, we have to square off against each other for the Alias Championship.
Now, you hear me say I don’t wanna hurt you and maybe you start hypertheorizin’ to yourself that maybe I won’t be of sound mental stature and you, maybe, could take advantage of that and win. You could be right.
I counterpropose this alternate theory…..
There’s these toxic, vile pieces of shit that have gone outta their way to make my life a livin’ hell. I have not been malignated with such ferocity since the pilot I was in called “Spanky and Mrs. Pickles”. You ever been the victim of a drive by spittin’? How about openin’ a cheeseburger and findin’ a big old glob of phlegm mixed in with the ketchup? Or bein’ called “Dickweed Gremlin Bastard” or whatever, wherever you go? They even put that on my coffee at Starbuck’s. Hurtful fuckin’ shit.
Fuck’em. Fuck’em all. Those fuckin’ pasty faced shitstains, all hidin’ behind their Twitters and Ticky-Toks and Instawhatever pseudonames, already lubin’ themselves up for “Culture Shock” for when they believe I will get my alleged comeuppance.
But don’t think you’re some kinda fuckin’ saint through all of this. Yeah, what I did was not a very nice thing. But what they’re doin’…..what they’ve done….it’s inhumane.
It’s been over two weeks so you gotta know what’s goin’ on and what’s bein’ said and done to and about me. You see the ugliness but have you stopped it? Have made a public statement outraged at what these pricks are doin’? No. We haven’t heard word fuckin’ one from you, so that…..
Well, that really has me questionin’ your moral fibrocity.
Not to repeat myself but….again, it should be known that I adore you and I will always adore you, in spite of that.
I don’t wanna hurt you, Kohime.
But those are the reasons why I will hurt you.
All because of all of those pencil dicked fucks, the men and the women. I want them to know that you layin’ in a puddle of your own blood at “Culture Shock”, it’s on them.
And for that, I will apologize to you.